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Studying Games Programming


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#1 d k h   Members   -  Reputation: 435

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Posted 24 February 2012 - 10:23 AM

Hello there,

I'm currently trying to find a place where I can study and become a Game Programmer. I am, however, finding it extremely hard to find schools that offer a relevant education. I'm hoping you can help me out!

It doesn't matter where the school is, I can travel and live anywhere. Courses must be held in German (mothertongue) or English (I have a Bachelor of Arts in English). I can't, however, afford expensive private schools - I have found several of these in Germany and the UK, 20-30k total is too much for me and my family.

I am not interested in general computer science programs, from what I have researched so far, it is possibly to study Games Programming without a prior degree in computer science.

I have very good knowledge of C/C++, have worked extensively with both OpenGL and Direct 3D (9). I am experienced in using libraries such as SDL, Allegro, IrrKlang, TinyXML and many more. I am able to compile a portfolio video showing a plenty of game projects and tech demos. I have written a Hybrid Renderer (Deferred and Forward Rendering), a tech demo that implements Shadow Mapping for point lights via cube mapping, a custom 3D model file format (including an exporter for 3DS Max) and plenty other stuff.

Posted Image

Click to enlarge! This shot shows a number of my implementations...


My questions:

- does the program I'm looking for actually exist?
- given my experience, would I have a realistic chance of getting in?
- what else would you think would look good in a portfolio, a completed game? Working with the Unreal Dev Kit for example?

I have tried xstudy.com and various other search engines as well as just googleing, but have yet to come up with a program that fits my profile. That's why I have turned to GameDev.net, hopefully some of you know a place... Posted Image

Thanks ahead of time!

Sponsor:

#2 Tom Sloper   Moderators   -  Reputation: 8667

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Posted 24 February 2012 - 10:48 AM

I'm currently trying to find a place where I can study and become a Game Programmer.
Courses must be held in German (mothertongue) or English (I have a Bachelor of Arts in English). I can't, however, afford expensive private schools
I am not interested in general computer science programs,
1- does the program I'm looking for actually exist?
2- given my experience, would I have a realistic chance of getting in?
3- what else would you think would look good in a portfolio, a completed game? Working with the Unreal Dev Kit for example?


1. A cheap game programming degree program? Probably not. Why do you refuse to consider CS? Because as you can tell from the other threads here and the FAQs, that's what everybody recommends.
2. Sure, why not?
3. Small demos are also good. You don't only have to have full games. Have clean, well commented source code, and demos that tackle some interesting game problem.
-- Tom Sloper
Sloperama Productions
Making games fun and getting them done.
www.sloperama.com

Please do not PM me. My email address is easy to find, but note that I do not give private advice.

#3 Azgur   Members   -  Reputation: 325

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Posted 24 February 2012 - 12:26 PM

I can personally recommend the programming track of "International Game Architecture and Design" at NHTV Breda in the Netherlands.
The course is taught in English and goes significantly in depth to prepare you for a job as game programmer.
(do stay away from the "indie game development" and "design and production" courses, these are fairly terrible and serve more to make money off those who don't make it on the programmer/artist track)

http://made.nhtv.nl/ contains quite a bit of info, though I feel it still doesn't entirely do justice to the accomplishments of the course.


I do wonder however, have you taken a stab at different entry level positions?
Given your list of accomplishments you probably should be able to find work already in the industry.
Remco van Oosterhout, game programmer.
My posts are my own and don't reflect the opinion of my employer.

#4 PlayfulCritter   Members   -  Reputation: 132

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Posted 24 February 2012 - 12:55 PM

I'm doing a games software engineering course and I wished I hadn't. It's pointless, and the "skills" I'm learning are not even applicable to what I want to be doing i.e programming. As an example, in my second year I had a course that focused on multimedia authoring. The course work consisted of creating a Flash slideshow and a garden scene in SoftImage XSI.

One week in a lecture we watch, and I kid you not, the extra's on a Pixar DVD to gain "insight into what 3D modelers / animators do." We also got some fantasic quotes like: "If you render in 60 frames per second, you will end up with 60 frames, every second..." Put in your own meme.

Do computer science, or at least a games degree that has a reputation for being good.

#5 d k h   Members   -  Reputation: 435

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Posted 25 February 2012 - 06:24 AM

Thank you very much, you are all really helping me out a lot. Let me address a couple of points:

Why do you refuse to consider CS?


There are two reasons why I am not looking into CS: (1) my interests really lie in game programming, I know general programming courses are a necessity but I feel that, to the best of my knowledge, CS doesn't concern game programming at all. I'd learn about, well, computers, hardware/software, informatics and theory, but everything relevant to games programming I feel like I already know, and the rest, frankly, isn't of real interest to me. (2) If I studied CS only to then afterwards get my game programming degree I'd be over 30 at the end of that. Not working until I'm 30 coupled with the study fees of that game programming degree is not an option whatsoever financially for me.

Maybe the impression I have of CS courses is wrong, this is just what I got when looking through CS programs here in Germany and the way they present themselves on the schools' websites.

I can personally recommend the programming track of "International Game Architecture and Design" at NHTV Breda in the Netherlands.


Thank you for that link, this is exactly the kind of school I'm looking for. Unfortunately, I already have a Bachelor of Arts degree in English which, as far as I can tell, means I need to pay the institutional instead of the study fee (~7.5k euros per year from the looks of it, 4 years so 30k for the degree, I don't have that kind of money whatsoever).

I do wonder however, have you taken a stab at different entry level positions?
Given your list of accomplishments you probably should be able to find work already in the industry.


I don't really want to start working somewhere in the field without a degree. If things start looking a little more dim in, say, 10 years I won't have a degree. And the whole: "well, I'll just start working now, I can always go back and get a degree" just never really works out, you just don't go back to education in my opinion.

One week in a lecture we watch, and I kid you not, the extra's on a Pixar DVD to gain "insight into what 3D modelers / animators do." We also got some fantasic quotes like: "If you render in 60 frames per second, you will end up with 60 frames, every second..." Put in your own meme.


That sounds exactly like the hell I want to avoid. I need a program that really fits my skillset - optimally I'd like to even avoid one year of "let's learn C++" to begin with but I know that's not really possible, plus you never know what you'll learn, even if I already know C++ well.

Any further insight would be greatly, greatly appreciated. Thanks for the responses so far again!

#6 L. Spiro   Crossbones+   -  Reputation: 12231

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Posted 26 February 2012 - 06:24 AM

to the best of my knowledge, CS doesn't concern game programming at all. I'd learn about, well, computers, hardware/software, informatics and theory, but everything relevant to games programming I feel like I already know

If you already know everything, why don’t you just get a job and stop wasting time with school?
And if you still think you need school, its only purpose would be to show some papers to someone that says you went to school. A degree can sometimes get a higher wage, but as far as I can tell that system is dying out.
These days, you get a higher wage because you are a better programmer.


This feels like an oxymoron. Why are you so picky about which school you attend when the only purpose is to get papers that say you studied the subject?


I felt the same way when I was your age (assuming you are the standard age of someone looking for universities, colleges, etc.)
I knew how to program and make games, so I put things into perspective: People are going to hire me based off what I can prove I can do, not what papers I got at a school.
After dropping out of high school I got a simple GED from a 2-year vocational college in “Computer Programming” (yes there are these courses too, that focus just on programming and not all the other areas you don’t want from “Computer Science”).

When I got my first job, which was overseas (I am from America by the way, and have never actually worked in America), my employer didn’t even look at my education.
He looked at my demos and gave me a little test which I aced easily.

Then later he asked, “Oh by the way do you have a diploma or degree or something? It is required for hiring people from overseas.”


This is perspective. Your degree is likely to be overlooked if you showcase such a demo as you have (which was far better than what I showcased when I was getting my first job).
So don’t spend too much time or thought in getting it.

The fact is, it can actually stunt your growth.
Another guy joined my current company on the same day I did.
We were both supposed to be in the R&D department, but since he was 25 and just got his masters (or bachelors or something), he had no actual work experience.
They moved him to the “regular game programmer” department where he makes literally half my wage. He won’t be able to join our department until he has shipped 2 games, and that means probably around 3 years.


And in case you are worried that no degree or only a GED etc. will stunt your growth potential, I doubt that will be the case.
As I mentioned, I have done nothing but work all over the world outside my own country. Currently in Japan and in a very big company with great technology that they pay me to help build. Life has been a blast, as if I have never worked a day in my life.


So stop worrying and nitpicking, and go out and start your life.
Work experience is often more valuable than school papers. Take it from someone who dropped out.


L. Spiro
It is amazing how often people try to be unique, and yet they are always trying to make others be like them. - L. Spiro 2011
I spent most of my life learning the courage it takes to go out and get what I want. Now that I have it, I am not sure exactly what it is that I want. - L. Spiro 2013
I went to my local Subway once to find some guy yelling at the staff. When someone finally came to take my order and asked, “May I help you?”, I replied, “Yeah, I’ll have one asshole to go.”
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